In every poker hand you enter you are faced with several choices on each betting round. These choices or options, if you will, are crucial, and will ultimately decide your fate for the day. If your most common poker ploy is checking and calling, then it is time to make a change for you cannot win consistently by playing this style. “Calling Stations,” as they are referred to, are weak players. Calling a bet at any time after the flop and turn card is simply bad strategy and will, for the most part, get you into nothing but trouble. If you have a fear of getting raised after you bet, then you are undoubtedly in the wrong business. Be aggressive.
Calling before the flop and after the river card is acceptable; calling a bet after the flop and the turn card is not. You options after the flop and the turn card should be to bet, raise or fold. The only exception to this rule is if you are on a flush or straight draw or if you flopped the nuts. These are absolutely the only exceptions to this rule. When I say the nuts, I’m not referring to a straight or small flush; I’m referring to the nut flush or a full house. Slow playing hands is bad strategy, period. Low limit hold’em (15-30 or smaller) provides too many opportunities for your opponents to catch up or outdraw you, which over the long run is suicidal.
Never just call after the flop. Suppose you have Q-J and the flop is A-Q-3. The flop is bet and now it is up to you to decide what to do. Folding is correct, raising is correct, calling is incorrect. By raising you accomplish a number of positive results. First, you eliminate players that are on draws that could beat you. Players that are on inside draws will likely fold for fear of a re-raise be the original bettor. A player who may be on Q-K or Q-anything will in all likelihood fold. Most players are unlikely to put in two bets after the flop on inside draws or a low pair. Get rid of these players. By just calling this flop, you allow those players to “peel” the turn card. By raising, you eliminate any player that is thinking of drawing to a back door flush. By raising, you get information that is needed to continue. If another player raises you bet, and the original bettor calls, you can be damn sure that one, if not both of these two players are ahead of you and you can now fold. Forget about protecting your investment. That’s foolish thinking. It’s what you save, not what you win that will determine your fate over the long haul. You lost three bets to the hand, why make it five or six? Folding is never incorrect if you believe that you are beat. Every time I rake in a pot, I have to laugh to myself when I hear these words: “I had to see what you had, I had to call.” How many times have you called on the river knowing you are beat, absolutely sure, in fact, that you are beat? Saving those bets is crucial and should not be overlooked. Calling stations are weak players – don’t be one.